Golden rice is hazardous
The Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes (PNFSP), a network of food security advocates, supports the call of farmers from eight Asian countries (India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines) to stop golden rice trials and commercialization in Asia, especially in the Philippines. Golden rice is a genetically engineered (GE) rice that can pose numerous threats and risks linked to unpredictable gene mutations. Experiments in laboratory animals have reportedly led to organ malfunctioning due to random gene positioning.
Golden rice propagation is also intertwined with the use of capital-intensive conventional chemical inputs, including hazardous and ecologically detrimental herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. Hence, golden rice will put the farmers’ and their communities’ health at risk.
There are cases that GMO propagation resulted in more complicated pest problems. The nature of golden rice resistance to pest is still unknown; and the resulting complex pest problems are highly probable.
We should expose and condemn the attempt of golden rice proponents to deceive the public that it is a corporate gift to solve hunger and malnutrition. Commercialization of golden rice will, in fact, tighten transnational corporations’ control over agriculture through chemical inputs, hybrid seeds, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at the expense of our farmers. The approval and “direct use” and commercialization of GE rice in Asia also means that golden rice will not just be confined to local production and domestic use but will open the Asian region to massive and unregulated trade of GMO crops through rice, Asia’s staple food.
PNFSP strongly believes that food security involves the provision of safe, sufficient and nutritious food that meets the daily dietary needs of the people. We believe that poverty is still the No. 1 cause of malnutrition and hunger. Addressing the root causes of poverty—landlessness, government neglect and transnational corporations’ control of agriculture, and not the promotion of golden rice—is the only way to end malnutrition and hunger. PNFSP strongly recommends the promotion and development of indigenous rice varieties that have, for generations, been proven to be healthy, nutritious and safe, instead of GMO products such as golden rice. And this can only be done through sustainable agriculture. Organic and diversified farming will help farmers produce safe and nutritious food for their families and communities. This will also help sustain biodiversity and ensure resiliency among the farming communities.
RENMIN VIZCONDE, advocacy officer, Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, [email protected]
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